This is a Call: The Life and Times of Dave Grohl,
published by Da Capo Press, offers both a journalistic and fan perspective on
the Nirvana/Foo Fighters icon, along with a keen eye for detail and context.
By John B. Moore
Foo Fighters frontman and
former Nirvana/Scream drummer Dave Grohl is the closest thing we have to a real
rock star nowadays.
Sure, he doesn’t leave
trashed hotel rooms in his wake (that’s so ‘70s), and groupie love ended years
ago now that Grohl is married and father of two little girls living in
suburbia, but he can still electrify a stadium like Freddie Mercury in his
prime. He’s got the musical knowledge of a used record store clerk and is
ballsy enough to put out a dark metal album with folks like King Diamond and
Venom’s frontman at the near height of his popularity. It’s hard to picture
Coldplay’s Chris Martin pulling that one off.
He has a well-documented reputation
as being the nicest guy in rock, but as This
is a Call shows, his rise to the rock star stage has had more than a few
pitfalls including strained relationships with former band members, ODs (not
his own) and near breakups.
UK journalist Paul Brannigan
has spent years interviewing Grohl from the early stages of Foo Fighters up
through their massive global success, so the book includes plenty of direct
quotes culled from years of conversations with Grohl, his band mates and former
scene buddies in D.C./Virginia and Seattle. While This is a Call is clearly about Grohl, Brannigan does a commendable
job of putting everything into context beginning with quite possibly the best
written documentary of the D.C. punk and hardcore scene Grohl was raised in as
part of Scream and other lesser known bands.
The Nirvana years are
obviously covered in great detail and while nothing too shocking is revealed
(Courtney Love was/is a massive pain in the ass, Kurt Cobain was not the easiest
guy to get along with), there are obviously some deep wounds that haven’t
completely healed over yet. There are some touching first person anecdotes
about the trio recording their seminal albums, but also some honest insights
into Cobain that would make you question the saint-like adoration he receives
after his death Grohl nearly quit Nirvana after Cobain, seeing how successful Nevermind was doing, decided to change
the agreed upon three-way split of royalties ensuring he would be paid far more
than his two other band mates. In fact, with this new scenario, Grohl and
bassist Krist Novoselic would end up having to pay back their royalties to
Cobain. (Pretty dick move for an anti-corporate rocker).
Much of the Foos’ story,
including tension with original drummer William Goldsmith and the hiring and
eventual firing of guitarist and one-time Scream bandmate Franz Stahl, has been covered in the band’s
documentary Back and Forth, released
earlier this year. Regardless This is a
Call is still well-researched, passionately written book by an author who
is a clearly an unabashed fan, but still objective enough to give an
unvarnished look at a great band that has struggled through some rough waters
at times but ultimately righted the ship.